Longtime tech video blogger Robert Scoble has denied the multiple allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him recently, claiming he did not have enough "power" over his accusers to sexually harass them. Earlier this week, the influential Silicon Valley figure resigned from the Transformation Group, a "mixed reality" consulting firm he co-founded following numerous allegations of sexual assault.
In a lengthy blog post on Wednesday (25 October), Scoble said he was "sorry that so many women feel wronged by me" and that he hoped to "set at least some of the record straight". He added that he "rejected" his lawyer's advice to not make a statement and "address the issue head-on" in the "spirit of healing".
Scoble claimed that he was misquoted by former partner Shel Israel, who said in a statement after the news broke that he had confirmed the reports were "mostly true" and that he would be cancelling his public activity for the rest of the year. Israel had announced Scoble's resignation in a Facebook post on Monday (23 October).
"If I were guilty of all the things said about me, I would still not be in a position to have sexually harassed anyone," Scoble wrote in the over 2,400-word blog post. "I don't have employees, I don't cut checks for investment. None of the women who came forward were ever in a position where I could make or break their careers. Sexual harassment requires that I have such power.
"Each of the women who have come forward used grains of truth to sell false narrative," he continued, referring to the four women who accused him of sexual harassment. "Perhaps because they felt peer pressure to join the #MeToo bandwagon, perhaps because they felt slighted for other reasons. I won't speculate on their motives."
According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment can include "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature". The harasser can be "the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer", according to the EEOC.
Scoble also took aim at TechCrunch and Business Insider, who both covered early reports of the allegations, of being "gossip blogs" that rushed to publish "clickbait".
"I have been trying to internalise that as someone who has been abused that I have behaviours that are part of my survival tactics and I work to change those behaviours," he added. "I am attempting to recover from my addictions, but with regard to the immediate allegations from the article, the inaccuracies make it hard to be apologetic. Every one of these women have had hardships, and I don't envy any of their positions in life, but that doesn't justify their malice towards me, my wife, and family and friends who have supported me."
He apologised to his wife and "women in general" for marital infidelity, making and laughing at inappropriate jokes and watching online porn.
However, Scoble did not address one claim in which journalist Quinn Norton accused him of groping her at a conference in 2010.
The sexual harassment claims against Scoble come after the more than 50 assault allegations levelled against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein rocked almost every other industry, including the tech sector.
Michelle Greer, who alleged that Scoble touched her inappropriately while they worked together at Rackspace, tweeted, "I'm now being told I'm a liar. I wonder what this apology was for then?" She also posted screenshots of a Facebook comment in which Scoble apologised to her and called his behaviour "disgusting".